LOS ANGELES -- Toyota says the $170 million it will spend to launch the redesigned 2012 Camry will result in 13 billion "impressions" over the next year -- an impression being any time a set of eyeballs witnesses any form of Camry advertising.
That's enough to reach every American 42 times over and compares, for example, with the 200 million impressions Nissan expected for its "Innovation for All" campaign for the Leaf electric vehicle.
The media push that began last week is heavy on TV -- including two spots during the Super Bowl -- but spans every traditional media outlet as well as digital and social media.
"This is a big effort for us," said Bill Fay, Toyota group vice president of marketing. "This is our biggest, best coordinated, most integrated launch ever."
The campaign -- with the tag line, "It's Ready. Are You?" -- is intended to solidify the Camry's position as America's best-selling car, a notch it has held for nine years running and for 13 of the past 14 years.
In one commercial, a man walks out to his driveway reciting all the things he wants in a car -- which is then built around him using computer animation. The other spot has NASCAR driver Kyle Busch pull into the pits in his racing car, which is transformed into a street-legal Camry by his pit crew.
There is an increased emphasis in performance and driving dynamics in several spots as well, an effort to change the Camry's perception as a soulless appliance. An online spot that could reach broadcast media shows Toyota President Akio Toyoda blazing around Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a NASCAR Camry.
"No other company has the boss out there racing," Fay says. "He's passionate about the cars and performance and driveability. We'd like to show that."
Toyota's stranglehold on the mid-sized sedan segment is weakening. The Camry still holds a 30,000-unit lead against the No. 2 Nissan Altima through the first nine months of 2011. But a surging band of competitors -- the Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu -- all have increased sales this year, while Camry sales have fallen 8 percent. And a redesigned Honda Accord, the perennial No. 2 but running third behind the Altima through September, arrives in mid-2012.
"Each aspect of the campaign tries to reinforce how the car has been reinvented," says Fay.
But while pitched as "reinvented," the 2012 Camry carries over four- and six-cylinder engines and six-speed transmissions, and most people won't notice much difference in the sheet metal. The differences for the 2012 model, which went on sale Oct. 3, include a new interior, lower weight and price and an upgraded engine on the hybrid model.
Detail-heavy print ads discuss quality, fuel economy, safety and the redesigned interior. Billboard ads emphasize the Camry's range, using examples like: "Beantown to Motown on one tank." Toyota also will have street teams at Life Time Fitness locations giving test drives.
On the digital side, Fay said the push will extend into home page takeovers -- prominent ads in must-see positions on the home pages of several popular Web sites -- in addition to videos, games, mobile and social media.
A social media site on which Camry owners can share their stories, called "Camry Effect," has been created. In less than two weeks, with little publicity, more than 5,000 people had shared first-person accounts.
Toyota has separate campaigns for Hispanic, Asian and African-American shoppers. Those three demographic groups account for 20 percent of Camry sales, and it is the best-selling car among those three groups.
Toyota has been under sales pressure for almost two years, what with the recall crisis; shortages caused by the March earthquake; and the impact of the strong yen in slashing profits on vehicles shipped from Japan to the United States. While the industry is up 10 percent this year, Toyota Division sales are off 9 percent.